I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
For many, self-isolation and stay-at-home orders are getting old. VERY old. We all long to get back on with our lives, going places we want to go to, seeing people we want to see. It is true that for our world, these are dark times while we wrestle with the pandemic. Just a reminder, though. Don’t forget to “turn on the light”. Be that bright spot on a dark day.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Aldous Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Today is a rainy day here in Florida, which is something we don’t get for sustained periods of time, except during the fall during hurricane season. I just love the rain. There is something almost magical about the sound of the rain knocking at the window on days like these, beckoning us toward a moment in time other than our our usual. The sound of rain against any skylight is enough to give me as much joy as watching a flock of birds flying in perfect synchronicity.
I always wondered about people who complain about the rain as if some little silly external event would ruin their day in some way. So very many people equate the rain with “awful weather” and that always surprises me.
The rain makes the grass grow; it cleans the air. Flowers get what they need when it rains, too. Rain fills up ponds, streams and lakes. It makes great puddles for children to splash in with their boots and raincoats. Rainy days bring worms out from the dirt, and I have always been fascinated by these creatures that we don’t often get to see. And who can deny the beauty of a rainbow, a promise that all will be well, after the rain clears. My dear aunt reminds me how beautiful the rain smells, especially in cooler climates in the Northeast.
We tend to put on comfortable clothes when we are inside on rainy days like today. We tend to experience a moment of solitude when the rain falls and might even enjoy being in “the moment” if we watch the almost hypnotizing and mesmerizing drops of rain as they fall softly and gently, then loudly and strongly. against the walkways and streets.
One thing is certain, however, the rain can force us to change the plans we had for the day. If we had planned an outing to the beach, the rain puts a damper on that. Similarly, if we had planned to go for a bike ride, the rain can also put a damper on that, too. I guess that’s part of the beauty and charm of the rain for me, however. The rain FORCES us to flex a little and to change our expectations a little. It might even push us out of our comfort zone if we need to drive in the rain. In some way, the rainfall is parallel to the world in which we live at any given time, especially during this pandemic. What IS happening at the moment is sometimes different than what we WANT to happen. We are forced to change our focus to something else, like working at home, learning from home, shopping solely from home, etc..when we would rather be in and around our extended family, co-workers, and friends along with our own immediate family.
I love the rain because it also makes me think of my Nana, who always told me that “The rain is God’s way of saying ‘slow down.’ ” My Nana told me a rainy day is a good day to crawl up on the couch with a soft blanket to read a good book. A rainy day is a good day to have a sauce or soup simmering on the stove.
A rainy day is a good day to pause and enjoy the gift of having the luxury of that extra special sliver in time that we didn’t expect to ourselves. A rainy day is an unexpected gift if we think of it in that way.
A friend of mine years ago used to keep cookie dough frozen in her freezer for rainy days, when she would take out just a few frozen balls of cookie dough to celebrate the day in all it’s glory. Such a wonderful idea that I have taken to doing as well. Tonight, we’ll have our cookie dessert BEFORE our dinner as a way to celebrate this beautiful day. In this house, we find a way to celebrate EVERYTHING.
Rain also brings about fond memories of my father, who once had the patience to sit near a window when I was little during a thunder storm. He was an amateur photographer back in the day when cameras actually had film. Photography was as much a science as an art in those days, as one needed to understand depth of field and how to create it, as well as what camera aperture setting is necessary to capture the image we desired to capture. He wanted to capture that exciting split second when lightening raced across the sky and waited….. and waited…. and waited all day to do so. He was so very happy when he developed his film in his “dark room” in our basement when he discovered that he was able to do what he set out to do. The man taught me lessons over and over again about the value of patience and the need for beauty in watchful waiting that stay with me to this day.
Rain also brings me back to long ago when my daughter, “Teen Traveler,” loved to stomp around into the deepest puddles she could find when it rained. Her”devil-may-care” laugh and impish smile across her face always made me smile. Such happy memories make me smile today and fill my soul to inspire an attitude of gratitude for me on days like this.
It has been said that “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (Vivian Greene). It’s about finding something that gives us joy, even though we are faced with a change in our plans or what was expected. It’s about finding joy when we stop to look and listen to what’s going on around us, beyond us. It’s about remembering my Dad, a beautiful and patient man with a beautiful heart and Nana, a pillar of strength, a kind- hearted soul who would feed anyone who needed a place to come on any given holiday.
“Well I love a rainy night; I love a rainy night. I love to hear the thunder; watch the lightning when it lights up the sky. You know it makes me feel good.
Well, I love a rainy night; it’s such a beautiful sight. I love to feel the rain on my face; taste the rain on my lips, in the moonlight shadows…”
-“I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
Life is good, even when it rains. Carpe diem, friends……
Many years ago one of my best friends who shares my same sense of humor and I decided we would challenge each other to a contest to use an archaic word in a conversation with someone else that day. The word was to be used in normal conversation without a laugh or smile, never letting on to the other participant in the conversation that we put each other up to that word. Now this is my friend who has been with me through so many times where we laughed so hard that we almost cried. One time I actually choked on my food in a restaurant for real. You know when you laugh so hard that your stomach actually hurts, and you almost can’t breathe? I know this feeling well and love it. There is something about laughter that is simply delightful. One word we used that day was “hijinks.” Another was “hoodwinked”. Try using THOSE words in a conversation with a straight face!
WebMd.com tells us that laughter increases blood flow, may reduce blood sugar levels, and may reduce stress to increase an immune system response. That all may be true, but a good ol’ fashioned belly laugh simply feels good, if nothing else.
Fast forward to today. I was just on the phone with one of my best friends, laughing about one thing or another as we normally do. Reaching out to my best friends daily while I am social-isolating during these stay-at-home orders makes me smile. Game ON! I told my friend about the word a day contest I had with my friend many years ago and it turns out this friend had as similar contest with her friend in SIXTH grade! Game ON! Tough competition. Maybe the first person who uses the word first the next day could win eating the first piece of pizza the next time we met. I love a good contest and have been DYING to win a contest that would allow me to eat the first piece of pizza. I will surely pick the BIGGEST piece with the MOST toppings. When else can I deliberately eschew the good manners that my Momma taught me?
Hmmmm………what word to pick? I remember telling my friend a while back that it fascinates me that there are many words in other languages that cannot be translated and that I remember reading that there was actually a word in another language that meant something like “the roof of my mouth is burning or on fire.” A GREAT word to win the first-slice-of-pizza contest to be sure. We agreed to that word:
“Pelinti”: word in Buli, the language of Ghana in West Africa. Pelinti means “moving food quickly around your mouth after you’ve belatedly discovered that it’s still piping hot,” according to syntacta.co.uk. Evidently pelinti happens to me EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY NIGHT while I eat pizza during our Friday pizza and a movie celebration in our home. I think I should have the hang of it by now, but no.
So….. go ahead and find a reason to laugh until your belly hurts. When was the last time you did that? It feels GREAT. And throw in a contest of the day to cope with Corona. You might be glad you did. Maybe YOU can win the first slice of pizza next time.
Does it seem difficult to turn on the television, especially in this Covid-19 days, to find something uplifting to watch? Rather than use this blog today to write about my own thoughts, I am deferring to others, who have gone before me, to spread good news to try to become a bright spot on a dark day.
In the youtube clip below, which is DEFINITELY worth watching, actor John Kraszinski uses his voice to establish what he calls “Some Good News”.
In the website below, good news is given the spotlight:
“Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Randy, a Carnegie Mellon professor who died of the then rare pancreatic cancer in 2008 believed in keeping optimistic, despite one’s harsh reality. He believed in confronting a difficult situation by acknowledging it and controlling our thoughts if we can’t control our situation.
“That is what it is. We can’t change it. We just have to decide how we’ll respond.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.
Finally, he believed one needs to ask oneself frequently the following question:
“Are you a Tigger or an Eyore?
-Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture”
SO………..ARE you a Tigger or an Eyore when you find yourself thinking about Covid-19 or anything else on your mind? Try to keep a positive mindset while the situation develops and changes everything around you.
Carpe-Diem, friends…………..and look to Tigger (and Randy) for inspiration at this difficult time.